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Dead Ink(Karma Series Book 4)

By:Donna Augustine

Dead Ink(Karma Series Book 4)
Donna Augustine

       (Karma Series Book 4)



A Karma World Romance



Chapter One





Lars' hand was steadier than humanly capable as he guided the tattoo gun. It wasn't a big surprise. After all, he wasn't human.

He swiped a rag across his client's skin and then leaned back in his  chair as he looked at his masterpiece. The tattoo started between the  guy's shoulder blades and ran down his back, ending above his waist. The  intertwining serpents were his creation, and a piece that was inspired  by his former occupation as Death, also known as the Grim Reaper.

"How's it look?" the client asked.

"Shut up." Lars preferred either complete silence or blaring music while  he worked, but never idle chitchat. The constant drone of a human's  voice was akin to a fly buzzing in his ear. He didn't understand why the  majority of humans constantly needed to vocalize every thought that  popped into their brains.

It was only he and the client in his shop, since the two other tattoo  artists he employed were off today. If you weren't getting a tattoo, you  weren't allowed in the shop while he was working because, like he'd  mentioned, humans never shut the fuck up. If they weren't talking to  themselves they were getting all into his space, oohing and ahhing. He  didn't care what some random asshole off the street thought of his work.  Even if it was a chick he was considering having sex with later, and he  got plenty of those in here too, he didn't want to talk while he  worked.

"How long do you-"

"I told you. Shut. Up. Speak again and I won't finish." Lars knew that  wasn't a problem. The guy would either shut up or he'd knock him upside  the head and shut him up.

"Hey, I won't pay you if-"

"Shut up!" Lars said as he jammed the tattoo gun over a sensitive area  of his client's already battered skin. "I don't give a shit about the  money."

The guy didn't say another word. Lars hadn't been lying either. He  didn't do this for the money. He did it because, for some reason, he  felt compelled to.

When he'd first retired, in an unorthodox manner, from the agency that  ran the Universe, he thought a tattoo shop would be a good cover for  him. There were always fringe sorts hanging around these types of  establishments, the kind of people who weren't looking to blend in with  society but to break the norms and live as they wanted. He'd always  respected that, and it seemed to be a perfect environment for him to  hide in plain sight.

In the beginning, he'd hired some artists to do the work. One day, a hot  chick he considered banging wanted him to give her a tattoo. Out of  pure boredom, he agreed. He started dabbling, on and off. A year later,  he looked up and realized he'd been doing it every day and that when he  was tattooing was the only time he felt completely at peace.

When the door opened and disturbed his peace, that early evening, he  didn't bother looking up; he just shouted, "Get out." He dipped the gun  in some more ink and started working on the details of one of the  serpent's scales.

"Are you Lars?" a female asked.

Her voice was high pitched and screamed of estrogen, just the way he  liked a woman's voice to be. He knew exactly what that voice would sound  like if he decided to take her to bed, but he was working so he didn't  bother looking up. He'd had too many women to get excited about just  one, at least not while he was in the middle of a piece.

"I told you to get out." She did have a nice voice. He knew she was cute  without even looking. "Come back in a couple of hours," he added as an  afterthought, still not bothering to look at her. Even if she wasn't  attractive, he'd bang her from behind. There was usually at least one  acceptable angle to be found.

"I can't." The sweet voice was edged with determination.

Lars sighed loudly and placed the tattoo gun down on the table by his  side, accepting the fact that he'd have to stop working if he wanted to  get her out of his hair. He should've dead-bolted the door before he  started, but he'd been distracted lately.

He stood up, cursing himself for not hiring a shop helper, and refusing  to schedule one of the other artists today, so he could delegate this  nuisance. He turned, an aggravated sigh escaping as he did, and looked  at the unwanted visitor.

He froze. She looked like a wood nymph. Her blonde hair, too thick for  her head, was wild and unkempt. Large turquoise eyes peeked out from a  dirty face. None of that was why he nearly knocked into the table next  to him. Whoever she was, she wasn't human.

"Get out," he said, this time to the guy he'd been working on. When his  client didn't move, he nudged him with his knee. "I told you to get  out."                       
       
           



       

"Huh?" The guy jerked his head up. "Me?"

"Yes," Lars said, never losing eye contact with the woman standing just a couple of feet inside his shop.

"But my tattoo?"

He hated when grown men whined. "I'll call you. Now get out."

The client scrambled to his feet and Lars shoved the guy's shirt at his  chest, nearly bulldozing him out the door and causing his unwanted  visitor to jump out of their way.

He slammed the door shut and clicked the deadbolt into place.



***



Faith wrapped her arms around herself as she watched Lars move about the  room, lowering the shades and securing the place until they were truly  alone. No one passing by the shop for an evening stroll would know  anyone was in here.

Or come to her aid if things went badly.

He turned back to her and her feet started shuffling away. She thought  about the list of threats she'd taken from Malokin's desk. Lars and Dead  Ink had been the first name on the list and the easiest to get to. When  you didn't have a car, or a dime to your name, location trumped all.  But now, standing here, looking at who Lars was, she wondered if she  should've taken another few minutes to assess her options.

He was a large man, and even though the grey t-shirt he wore wasn't skin  tight, as he moved about the room she could make out the heavily corded  muscles beneath. If he decided to turn his strength on her it would be a  knockout in round one.

But it wasn't just his size, his long black hair or the tattoos running  up his arms that peeked out above the neck of the t-shirt that made her  eyes shoot to the now locked door. It was what she couldn't see that  frightened her most. She felt an energy about him, with his nearly-black  eyes locked on her, and she fought back a shiver.

There was a hunger about him. She didn't know what he craved but she  could sense it, as if he weren't complete. The way his gaze was  appraising her, like he was now, made her wonder if it was something he  thought she could satiate.

She wasn't exactly sure what she'd expected Lars to be like. Just  because he was an enemy of Malokin's, one of the crazy psychopaths who'd  abducted her, didn't mean he would be an ally of hers or that he'd be  the opposite, a sweet and kind man. But she'd hardly been thinking  logically in the last week, let alone in the five minutes she'd had to  make her decision before she'd dashed out of that hotel room the first  opportunity she'd had.

He stopped moving and settled into a spot several feet in front of her,  between her and the front door. Feet spread, arms loose at his sides, he  looked as if she'd need a bulldozer to move him out of her way. She  turned her head, looking to see if there was a back exit if need be.

"You came to me. You aren't leaving without telling me who you are," he  said, in response to her darting eyes, taking another step closer.

She didn't move again. If she ran now, she feared she'd be tackled on the way to a door she'd never make it out of there.

"I'll leave whenever I'm ready to," she said.

"Sure," he mocked. A short exhale of breath with a slight noise that  might have been the beginning of laughter showed he didn't believe that  was possible.

She let it go, knowing her mouth had run ahead of her brain like it  occasionally did. It would be idiotic to push this situation into an  unnecessary conflict. She needed his help. She had to keep that  paramount in her mind and be nice, even if it killed her.

"Who are you?" he asked again, impatience leaking into his tone and  transforming his posture into something slightly more threatening.

She'd made a choice to come here. Time to hope it was the right one, because she didn't think there'd be any do overs.

"I don't know," Faith answered and realized as bizarre as it sounded, it  was true. She'd known who she was a week ago but not anymore. If she  looked up her full name, Faith Dover, on the web, she was fairly certain  she'd find an obituary for someone who bore no resemblance to the  person she looked like now.

"You better come up with something better than that. Usually when I meet  people who aren't human, and I don't know them, I kill them. Take the  opportunity I'm giving you to explain before I get tired of waiting."

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